The need to maintain a comfortable temperature within the house and the cost of fuel (energy) has required higher standards of construction to reduce energy consumption within the home.
Construction techniques have evolved over time, with the need for better performance to reduce energy identified after the oil crisis of the 1970s. The need to maintain a comfortable temperature within the house depends on how well insulated it is. If the insulation is insufficient, energy can be used to heat space and water in the home. But there is an on-going cost in supplying this energy. Therefore, there is a direct relationship between energy efficiency within the home and cost15,16.
Building Regulations and their by-law predecessors have required insulation in most buildings since 1945. More recently, the UK has introduced a minimum fabric energy efficiency and carbon reduction policy to be implemented by 2016. This aims to improve the performance building fabric. Current design guides, such as the Code for Sustainable Homes22, improve the overall environmental performance of new housing. However, these regulations do not in themselves support healthy living and do not address the behavioural changes necessary to encourage a sustainable or healthy lifestyle.
Whilst domestic energy use has changed very little since 1965 the proliferation of electrical appliances within the home has almost cancelled out the improvements in the fabric of the building, emphasising the importance of user behaviour.